Resources on Faceted Navigation Design

These days it’s expected to be able to narrow search results with filters, e.g., on the left side of the results page. Called faceted navigation, this is a way to improve overall findability of information, particularly on sites with large collections of products or documents. Remember: people can’t buy what they can’t find, and filters help them get there.

The design of real-world faceted navigation systems, however, proves to be more intricate than people first assume. There are many hidden challenges, such as displaying large amounts of metadata and creating simple interactions average users understand. The truth is, once you dig into it there are many details to be aware of.

What’s more, faceted navigation doesn’t stop with search filtering: it can be applied to the design of navigation across the site. People can browse by facets before even searching, for instance. With this in mind, faceted navigation improves the discoverability of your content dramatically throughout the entire user experience.

I’ve developed a course on faceted navigation that I’ve been giving for nearly 8 years now. Many students ask for further resources and information. So I’ve compiled this list of references:

Marcia Bates, “The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface” (1989)

William Denton, “How to Make a Faceted Classification and Put It On the Web” (2003)

Karl Fast, Fred Leise, Mike Steckel, “All About Facets and Controlled VocabulariesBoxes and Arrows (2002)

——— “1. What Is a Controlled Vocabulary?Boxes and Arrows (2002)

——— “2. Creating a Controlled VocabularyBoxes and Arrows (2003)

——— “3. Synonym Rings and Authority FilesBoxes and Arrows (2003)

——— “4. Controlled Vocabularies: A Glosso-ThesaurusBoxes and Arrows (2003)

——— “Facets and Controlled Vocabularies: An Annotated BibliographyBoxes and Arrows (2003)

Instone, Keith “”Faceted Browsing – How User Interfaces Represent and Benefit from a Faceted Classification System“, SOASIST meeting, Dayton, Ohio

Jim Kalbach, Designing Web Navigation, Chapter 11 (2007)

——— “Faceted Navigation: Showing More Values

——— “Faceted Navigation: Layout and Display of Facets” (2010)

——— “Faceted Navigation: Grouping – An Untapped Potential” (2010)

——— “Faceted Navigation: SEO and Facets” (2010)

——— “Faceted Navigation: Typical Structures for Values” (2010)

——— “ROI of faceted navigation” (2011)

——— “Faceted Navigation: Displaying and Forecasting Magnitude“ 2011)

Kwasnick, Barbara H, “The Role of Classification in Knowledge Representation and Discovery” Library Trends (1999)

Fred Leise, Sarah A. Rice, Amy WarnerDeveloping a Faceted Classification” (presentation at the IA Summit, 2005)

Louie, Aaron J., Eric L. Maddox, and William Washington “Using Faceted Classification to Provide Structure for Information Architecture” Information Architecture Summit, Portland, OR (2003)

Peter Morville, “The Speed of Information Architecture“ (2001)

Jakob Nielsen, “Converting Search into Navigation” (2013)

Greg Nudelman, “Faceted Finding with Super-Powered Breadcrumbs” (2009)

Greg Nudelman, “Numeric Filters: Issues and Best PracticesUX Matters 

Priss, Uta, and Elin Jacob, “Utilizing Faceted Structures for Information Systems Design,” in ASIS ’99: Proceedings of the 62nd ASIS Annual Meeting (1999?)

Ranganathan, S.RElements of Library Classification. 3rd ed. New York: Asia Publishing House (1962)

Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati, Pervasive Information Architecture (2011)

Tony Russell-Rose and Tyler Tate, Designing the Search Experience: the Information Architecture of Discovery (2012)

Donna Spencer, Card Sorting (2009)

Louise Spiteri,”A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis: Ranganathan 101” Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science (1998)

Jared Spool, “Users Continue After Category Links” (2001)

Steckel, Mike, “Ranganathan for IAs” Boxes and Arrows (2002)

Daniel Tunkelang, Faceted Search (2009)

Peter Van Dijck, “Introduction to XFML” (2003)

——— “XFML Core – eXchangeable Faceted Metadata Language” (2003)



Elastic Lists



Freebase Parallax 


OptimalSort from Optimal Workshop for card sorting

Relation Browser

Scatter / Gather UI 

Trivago TV advertisement (shows the value of facets in a commercial setting)



About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

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